Edgewater, built in 1825 on the Hudson River in upstate New York, combines classical architecture with a dramatic setting to create one of the Hudson Valley’s most charming riverside homes. The house is built on a small peninsula extending into the river and faces due west across the river to the Catskill Mountains. Surrounded by green lawn, ancient trees, and water on three sides, the house seems secluded and has the feel of being on a small island.
Built for Captain Lowndes Brown of Charleston and his wife Margaret Livingston, Edgewater, with its high ceilings and tall windows, seems more suited to a Southern climate than the Hudson Valley. There is some reason to believe that the design of the house may have been provided by Robert Mills, a prominent American architect of the early 19th-century and a native Charlestonian who returned to work in Charleston in the 1820s. Edgewater, with its Doric columns, Roman-arched doors, and tri-partite windows, is very similar to Mills’ work in South Carolina at the time.
The natural beauty and resources in the area surrounding Edgewater are also known to have inspired the earliest conservation agreements in the United States. In 1841, Edgewater’s new owner Robert Donaldson and the owner of nearby Montgomery Place, Louise Livingston, entered into an agreement to preserve the scenic landscape around the Sawkill tributary of the Hudson River. The promise made by these early preservationists to never develop this land for industrial use reflects a wider American sentiment in the early 19th-century that viewed nature as an aesthetic resource to be protected.